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I recently met Philip Duff at the G’Vine Connoisseur’s Program 2011 Preliminary at Swirl Wine Bar. (I competed too; more on that in a future post.) A bartender and consultant who travels around the world, he was in town to promote that program and G’Vine’s gins. He gave a lecture on the spirit and the history of distillation that was funny, interesting and not at all boring. The video above, which rips into bartenders who walk into other bars and make life hell for their colleagues, shows more of that wit.

COCKTAILS

Forget the sweet stuff. The latest trend is is herbal and vegetal. The red pepper puree is my new favorite mixer. (Details)

Cinco de Mayo may be over and done with but summer’s just starting and this is going to be a good year for tequila! Brush up on your history whilst drinking a Margarita Tenacatita. (Salon)

Caribana (I’m still not used to the new name) is coming up and while I’m not the biggest fan, I’ll be using the festival as an excuse to cook up some tamarind syrup. The fruit is tart but still a bit sweet. Mixed up as El Tamarindo, you won’t find a more refreshing highball. (12 Bottle Bar)

The blog above also has an outstanding post on infusing simple syrups. Even if you don’t have a herbal garden, you owe it your cocktails and your guests. (12 Bottle Bar)

If you have pomegranate juice, you can make your own grenadine syrup. (CHOW)

How to make Falernum #9. No Zombie is complete without it! (Post Prohibition)

One of most refreshing juices I can think of comes from the hibiscus flower. Too bad Agave & Aguacate stopped serving it. (Muy Bueno Cookbook)

Is it bad that the first thing I want to do with this recipe for switzel, a spicy non-alcoholic drink is add some dark rum to it? (The New York Times)

So you’ve just gotten used to Angostura bitters? Learn about the next essential bitters you need to have in your home bar: orange. (Serious Eats-Drinks)

Everything you ever wanted to know about amaros. My current favorites are Nonino (933796, 700 mL, $42.95) and Montenegro (601484, 750 mL, $24.15). (Post Prohibition)

TOOLS

Feeling intimidated to put together a decent bar at home? This couple did it for next-to-nothing and it looks terrific. BYOB, Toronto’s newest cocktail shop, is planning on selling mini-bars so you have no excuse. (Chicago Reader)

Tool-wise, you don’t need much. Just a jigger, shaker, spoon, strainer, pairing knife, cutting board and citrus reamer. Anything else is a bonus. (The Kitchn)

NEWS

The government of Manitoba will be running a trial project allowing a few grocery stores to sell beer and wine in a bid to make it a more attractive place to live or visit. We can’t allow this kind of provincial oneupmanship to continue! I expect a competitive response from Ontario’s Attorney General shortly. (The Drinks Business)

Restaurants in California are starting to install draught systems and sell wine from the tap. I think this is a terrific idea that would do well in Ontario, especially with some of the smaller wineries who can’t get shelf space at the LCBO. Take-home growlers are a great bonus as well! (LA Weekly)

I’ve loved beer cocktails ever since I was a server at Jack Astor’s at Front St. Post-shift, the bartender used to pour a little cassis in my Hoegaarden and then it was Micheladas at Reposado Tequila Bar. This list of bars in New York City shows there’s much more to this kind of drink. I’m looking forward to experimenting with lambics in the next couple of months. (The New York Times)

Bartenders in NYC are having fun by guesting at each other’s bars. The Gladstone Hotel’s Sandy De Almeida puts in some time behind the bar at Churchill on Sunday’s but this is a trend I’d like to see more of in Toronto. (The New York Times)

You can also order custom-designed ice for your bar. Is there anything those crazy east-coaster’s can’t do? (The New York Times)

Beer culture, whether mainstream or esoteric, is predominantly male and a lot of the advertising reflects that but I don’t know if the packaging has always been so gender-specific. Copen♥Hagen, an offering from Carlsberg, is touted as being “androgynous” which apparently stands for “clean design”. Whether it will taste good is another matter…  (Fast Company Co.Design)

A much more interesting idea from Denmark comes courtesy of Evil Twin Brewing. Named Disco Beer (huh?), it’s an amalgamation of an India Pale Ale with a Chardonnay. Assuming this isn’t a one-off, the LCBO should totally pick this up. (Tasting Table)

The first farmer-produced beer is now for sale in NYC’s Union Square Greenmarket. Mark VanGlad’s maple-infused pale ale is the first to be produced entirely in-state, with most breweries importing their hops and barley from Europe or other states. (The New York Times)

Here’s another one of those studies that justifies my fast-and-hard lifestyle. This time it’s by some Japanese scientists and they say you can have a couple beers five times per week can reduce your chances of getting a fatty liver. (Daily Bhaskar)

In France, riot police are very upset over a proposed ban on drinking during lunch. Part of me wishes we had this kind of issue but the G20 was scary enough. (AOL)

FOOD

Chickpea salad with lemon, Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh herbs is my go-to salad, an easy favorite! (Bon Appetit)

Whether you’re intending to visit New Orleans this year or not, this guide to the best sandwiches of the city is required reading for all who love putting things inside bread. Po’ Boys, Muffulettas and even Banh Mi rule this city that, like Toronto, has a couple of very prominent cuisinal inspirations. Francis Lam is on a role. (Salon)

What’s the best oil to use when frying? Apparently, heat obliterates the flavor so using something too expensive is a waste of money. (The New York Times)

Big news! The USDA has announced that it’s okay to cook pork (good quality pork obviously) medium-rare. Toronto’s not on board yet but I’m going to give this a go with the next pork chop I buy from Fiesta Farms. (PostCity)

I’m big on agave syrup but how do these non-sugar sweeteners stack up against each other? (Salon)

Japanese burgers with wasabi ketchup. You’re welcome. (Tasting Table)

Make your own mayo in less than 10 minutes. It’s that easy. (Esquire)

Jazz up butter with herbs. Also pretty easy. (Design*Sponge)

Two of the biggest reasons more people don’t hit up the farmer’s markets are that grocery stores are a) convenient and b) cheaper. The latter reason may very well get kicked to the curb thanks to a study in Vermount that claims that fresh produce items were generally lower and organic items were cheaper every time. (The Atlantic)

While we’re about to get our first food truck courtesy of Caplanksky’s, the L.A. food truck craze is in trouble. (NPR)

With a kim-cheesesteak, I doubt NYC will be having similar trouble. (New York Street Food)

How to make a delicious meal for a family of five for under $10. Alternatively, how to feed three hungry students. (Grist)

While we’re on the subject of cheap, peasant food, check out this recipe for ribollita. It may be summer but I’m still eating like it’s winter. (The Guardian)

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